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British Airways luggage allowance explained and how to maximise your cabin baggage allowance

British Airways recently restricted cabin luggage size: find out what the new BA cabin baggage allowance is and what their charges are for hold luggage, plus how to beat the airline fees!


British Airways hand luggage allowance: weight, size and fees

Number of bags allowed onboard British Airways cabin bag size British Airways hand luggage weight allowance Cost to check in oversized hand luggage
2 hand luggage bags per passenger: one cabin bag and one handbag or laptop bag

British Airways hand baggage allowance includes duty-free purchased at the airport

Children (under 2) allowed 1 additional cabin bag

56x45x25cm maximum cabin baggage dimensions

40x30x15cm maximum size for additional small bag

45x36x20cm on flights arriving and departing from Brazil

23kg maximum weight If your hand luggage is over the size or weight limit, or you have more than your allowance, it will be checked in and count towards your checked bag allowance

Check British Airways website to find out the cost for your particular route

What is British Airways checked luggage allowance?

This is where it gets complicated: it all depends on the route you’re flying and what ticket type you’ve purchased. British Airways offers free checked baggage on most flights from the UK, but if you’ve purchased a ‘hand luggage only’ ticket, you will need to pay extra for checked bags. It’s worth doing this before you get to the BA check in – fees can be double if you pay at the airport. Here’s a summary of BA’s hold luggage rules:

  • ‘Hand baggage only’ tickets: depending on your destination and departure airport, you’ll pay between £20 and £35 online in advance per checked bag, and between £40 and £65 if you pay at the airport.
  • In general hold luggage can’t be bigger than 90x75x43cm in size
  • All other flights, including Economy, Premium Economy, Business come with a free checked bag allowance
  • Club World and First Class travellers can get three bags weighing 32kg each for free, again, depending on where you’re flying to and from
  • To check your allowance or fees, log in to your booking on the BA website or browse this table of charges.

Can I bring musical instruments or sports equipment on British Airways flights?

  • You are allowed to bring additional items like guitars as part of your hand baggage, if they fit the above size restrictions
  • BA will try to accommodate larger and heavier musical instruments up to 45kg and measuring 190cm x 75cm x 65cm if you give 24 hours notice before departure
  • Sporting goods like tennis rackets and diving equipment must be under 23kg and up to 56cm x 45cm x 25cm to be counted as hand luggage, otherwise you may have to pay a heavy/oversized bag charge
  • You can bring a bicycle up to 190cm in length if it’s packed in a bicycle bag with tyres deflated and pedals and handlebars fixed to minimise width

How can I make the most of the British Airways hand luggage allowance?

If you’re determined to travel light, read on for our top tips on getting all of your luggage on board:

1. Always check your hand luggage dimensions

All airlines have slightly different luggage restrictions so always measure your hand luggage bags well before flying, especially when travelling with an airline for the first time. Remember, British Airways’s baggage allowance includes handles and wheels, so don’t get caught out by that awkward baggage gauge at the last minute! If you’re in danger of exceeding the limitations, look for a new cabin bag – most luggage stores now make it easy to find ‘cabin-approved’ rucksacks and suitcases. Unsure where to start?

Use our carry-on bag guide to review the best of the bunch.

2. Grab a guarantee

Most airlines can’t promise that your cabin bags will make it into the overhead lockers, meaning you may be left waiting around the baggage carousel, just for your overnight bag to Edinburgh. But British Airways does guarantee your smaller bag will be taken onboard, as long as you attach one of their yellow tags to the bag (available at the airport check-in desk). Make sure the tag’s visible before you board, and you’ll never have to go without your ear plugs or your travel pillow again!

3. Shop around for a fare deal

British Airways is no budget airline and has an impressive range of airfare grades, meaning you don’t have to struggle with the zip on your tiny suitcase! Even what the airline terms ‘Economy’ class includes a lot more than the seat, with snacks, drinks and family-friendly extras. On short-haul BA flights, Economy comes with three options: Basic, Plus and Plus Flex (Europe) or Business UK (British Airways UK domestic). While Basic is the ‘hand luggage only’ option you may be looking for, Plus comes with free checked baggage and Business UK allows you priority boarding so you can easily slide your holdall into the lockers before everyone else gets there. Alternatively, British Airways Premium Economy is available on some international flights and lends you a little more legroom for your oversized handbag, plus two pieces of hold luggage (23kg each) included in the price.

Image: Jun Seita, CC BY 2.0.

4. Fly to Brazil

We’re not kidding. As mentioned above, there are different, more generous, rules regarding British Airways luggage allowance on flights in and out of Brazil. In fact, several other international airlines including American Airlines make the same exceptions. Why? Well, officially, Brazil’s Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) stipulates that flights to and from Brazil must allow two checked bags weighing up to 32kg and hand baggage can measure up to 45cm (although the number of cabin bags vary between destination/origin countries). Some speculate that this allows travellers to buy more Brazilian goods to bring home. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) states that the absolute maximum weight for checked luggage is 32kg, though airlines can choose to restrict this to a lower weight, so it may be that Brazil is just maxing out the amount holidaymakers can take. Either way, even if the dazzling white beaches and upcoming Rio 2016 Olympics aren’t enough of an incentive, Brazil seems to be a good choice for people who like to travel with all their home comforts!

5. Use those extra centimetres

The BA hand luggage allowance is actually 5cm x 5cm bigger than Ryanair’s maximum dimensions for cabin baggage. So that’s a whole 25cm you can make the most of. Sure, you might have paid a little more for a British Airways flight, but that gives you a valuable bit of room for those little luxuries you thought you couldn’t squeeze in, whether it be your fanciest pair of pants, your favourite perfume or slipper socks for the journey. If you want more ways to up your comfort levels when flying, check out our guide on how to make economy feel like first class.

6. Join the club

While British Airways’s Executive Club may sound like you have to be an international jet-setter and criss-cross the Atlantic several times a week to join, membership is actually free. Registering will put you in the basic ‘Blue’ Tier, in which you’ll automatically start collecting Avios (the airline’s version of reward points) on flight purchases as well as member offers and the chance to rack up Tier points in order to progress to the next level. Make it to the Bronze Tier (300 Tier points on BA and partner flights) and you’ll start getting perks like priority check-in and boarding as well as being able to select a seat a whole week before you fly. Silver Tier (600 points) comes with extra luggage allowance among other things, while the Gold Tier (1500 points) pretty much guarantees you a First class experience, complete with exclusive lounges and bonus rewards. You don’t even need to be a British Airways frequent flyer to start earning points.

Image: Gary Bembridge, CC BY 2.0

7. Fly with another airline

Not many airlines can match the BA baggage allowance with even big names like Virgin Atlantic (56cm x 36cm x 23cm) and KLM (55cm x 35cm x 25cm) stipulating a slightly smaller hand luggage size, lending some truth to their ‘most generous’ claim. But if you have heavier items, like an SLR camera or sports equipment to transport, consider companies like Delta which has no weight restrictions on hand luggage apart from at selected airports.* For a full round-up of cabin bag restrictions across major airlines, see our comparison table.

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Information correct as of 12th August 2018, obtained from Please always check the latest guidance at before booking a trip

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